about the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area
| Selway River Beta:
Grade: Class IV ( Class V in flood stage)
Gradient: averages 28 feet/mile
Length: 47 miles of mind-blowing wilderness
Put-in: Paradise Launch Site - 3,050' elevation
Take-out: Race Creek Campground - 1,725' elevation
|Selway River Flow: call Idaho DWR River
or visit: the Idaho
Recommended Run Levels:
800 ~ 3,000 cfs at Paradise
Peak Recorded Flow:
May 29, 1948 - 48,900 cfs at Lowell
Nestled within the
1,239,840 acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area of North-Central Idaho
near the Montana border lies the amazing
The Selway River begins in a steep and heavily forested canyon, and the
canyon opens up within a few miles on river.
This free-flowing river is in a geographically compact drainage basin,
so river flows vary widely
Expect clear and cold water, pristine conditions and numerous side
creeks entering the river.
There are an estimated 76 named creeks pouring into the Selway river in
this 47 mile stretch of the
The Selway River is a designated "Wild River", as designated by the
Wilderness Preservation and the Wild and Scenic River system.
The Selway region is known for its extraordinary scenery, exceptional
water quality and excellent wildlife viewing opporitunity.
The Selway River provides habitat to the native Westslope Cutthroat
Trout and to an abundant wildlife population; Yes, we are all
visitors in the forest and to the river, the home to
our animal brothers.
We respect wilderness and all living things.
All living things are
sacred and to be respected.
Congress designated the Selway River as an outstanding
national resource under the Wild and Scenic River Act in 1968.
Wilderness designation took years and years of fighting for to obtain.
Rarely will you encounter other boaters since only ONE group
is allowed to launch per day on the Selway.
This fact, makes the Selway Idaho's most private Wild and
Private permits are hard to draw for the Selway, most
commercial trips book out 10 months in advance.
For your permit, contact :
West Fork Ranger Station,
Bitterroot National Forest, Darby, Montana 59829
406-821-3269 for more info.
The river ranger for the Selway River is Barry Williams, he's
been there for 20 years. Big RESPECT to Barry.
Permits and Forest
Selway River above Selway Falls:
Permit required - contact the West Fork Ranger District, Bitterroot
Selway River below Selway Falls to Lowell:
20 mile float trip - no permit required.
Hazards: Strainers, abberant water levels,
Long, COLD swims in continuous whitewater,
FIRE, poison ivy - rattlesnakes - yellowjackets, (its your typical
Northern Idaho adventure, you got it all.)
The rapids of the Selway River vary considerably according to flows,
There are about 10 named rapids between the put-in and Moose
The nine mile section of nearly continuous rapids below the Moose
Creek confluence earns the river its reputation as one of the best
runs in the United States.
Mile Guide to the Selway
River : Rapids of the Selway
The 47-mile Selway River begins
near Paradise Guard Station, travels North into the rugged
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area then moves through isolated
wilderness and returns to converge wit the Lochsa River near Lowell,
Launch near Paradise Guard Station, Idaho, where the river is
narrow (approx. 30' wide).
Goat Creek Rapid (class 3+) technical and long class 3
(winds through several bends in river for < 1/2
Bear Creek - (mile 16)
Ham Rapid (class 4) at big water - run on right,
big laterals and big holes
Moose River Camp - Selway confluence with Moose River
Moose Creek Rapid - the river doubles and gradient
the five miles following Moose River are more challenging
Rapids: Double Drop, Wa Poots,
Ladle, Little Niagra, Puzzle Creek and No Slouch.
Double Drop - right side run - pulling left to avoid a big hole at
Ladle Rapid - corner, river widens, boulder garden
- enter center, zig right, avoid
wrap rocks, zig left. steep class 3 drops, in quick
Little Niagra - large rock middle
of river, drops on either side, left side keeper hole, right side
Puzzle Creek - right of center, holes on
(look for a possible camp at Cedar Flats)
No Slouch - a river-wide hole -
sneak on left, hold your hat
Wolf Creek rapid - (scout) right side
channel along a rock wall with water pushing against boulder at bottom
river drops down a narrow chute directly into a wrap rock - turns
45 degrees left, then drops over a ledge with a large pourover hole on
Many beautiful camps below Wolf Creek Rapid and before takeout.
Camp at Cupboard Creek - beautiful sandy beach with plenty of
Take-out: Meadow Creek
Selway Falls - below the takeout - best to scout this one!
black bear, elk, moose, mule deer, whitetail deer, cougar,
bobcat, beaver, osprey, otter, mink, bald eagle, wild turkey, heron and
The Coeur d' Alene Salamander is found ONLY along the Selway River and
Meadow Creek of the Nez Perce National Forest.
The Selway River is home to native chinook salmon and steelhead.
native fish use the Selway as spawning and rearing grounds.
Trout: rainbow, cutthroat, bull trout, dolly varden and eastern brook
Effective Flies: Caddis, Grasshoppers
Fishing Rules: Catch and Molest only, Single barbless hooks, all fish
go back in the river.
historical records indicate that people have inhabited Northern Idaho
for over 10,000 years, and that the Selway River regions were heavily
used during prehistoric and recent historic times.
The Nez Perce people who made the Selway home, related to the Plains
cultures of the east and the Sahaptin cultures of the west. The Nez
Perce were known as some of the best horse handlers, and today the Nez
Perce are members of the four "treaty tribes" of the Columbia River.
The Nez Perce are members of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish
Commission, who is dedicated to the protection of treaty fishing rights
and the protection of fish habitat.
See the book, Salmon
and his people. By Dan Landeen and Allen Pinkham
River Logistics and Transportation
|Selway river trips
start near Salmon, Idaho and end near Lowell,
Shuttle is from Salmon to Lowell (roughly) and takes roughly six to
seven hours (275 miles).
Shuttle Logisitics: US 12 and US 93 - skirting the North and East edge
of Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Western Whitewater (by Fryar Calhoun and Jim
Cassady) offers a mile guide to the river.
- near put-in
Potential meeting place:
The Stagecoach Inn (208-756-4251) in Salmon is a decent choice for
|Lowell, Idaho - near
takeout, offers the commercial center of the Selway region
Lowell has groceries, phone, lodging, gas, camping gear, outfitter
services and fish and game licenses.
Boise to Stanley
= 3 hours
to Salmon = 3 hours
Salmon to Missoula = 3 hours
Salmon to Yellowstone = 5 hours
McCall to Boise = 2 hours
McCall Wilderness Aviation
800-992-6559 or 208-634-7137
Flights can be made from airports in:
Kamiah, Salmon or Boise
Floating the Wild Selway. Water-resistant
map-guide. Order from West Fork RD.
& McClaran, Idaho Whitewater.
Idaho: The Whitewater State.
Idaho River Tours.
7.5': Burnt Strip Mtn, Spot Mtn, Gardiner Peak, Dog
Creek, Moose Ridge, Mink Peak, Fog Mtn, Selway Falls.
1:100: Nez Perce Pass, Hamilton, Kooskia.
run. Order from West Fork RD.
Bitterroot NF and Nez Perce
and Selway River-related links:
Idaho Conservation League
Tarkio Kayak Adventures
USFS info on the
Bitterroot National Forest
Wilderness info from Recreation.gov